"...Katz makes the towering personality of Bruck so compelling...it is also mercifully humorous. Katz is hugely entertaining..."—Hats Off News
Reviews from the PRESS:
"an overwhelming experience...it makes you love music more..."
“...It is a one-man play about the art of conducting. It is about a man and his mentor, who is an intense, almost abusive man, but what he draws out of this conductor is the art of feeling music, of truly living the music.
"I was blown away. I was absolutely floored. My wife and I don't give standing ovations very often. It has to be very special. We leaped to our feet at the end of this. I came away—and I'm someone who has spent a lifetime in music, as both performer and broadcaster—I came away with a much deeper love of music from this play.
"It is very funny but it is also absolutely gut wrenching. There's incredible music woven into the fabric of this piece, but it is really about the art of learning to feel deeply about music. I kept thinking during the performance: WFMT listeners have to go to this show. It is for people who care about music.
"This is a powerful, powerful experience, and so well acted, and so well written, so well directed. It is an overwhelming experience. For those who love music, this is really for you. Go to this show...it makes you love music more."
—Peter Van de Graaff, host of WFMT Fine Arts Radio Music Through the Night, on air.
“...if his conducting is as fine as his acting...he must be superb”
HEADLINE: "Patton of the Podium: David Katz's one-man show is a clear-eyed tribute to a musical mentor with a tyrannical streak."
“...David Katz must have felt a little like the boy on the burning deck during his apprenticeship to the famously temperamental conductor and teacher Charles Bruck, the subject of Katz's engrossing one-man show, MUSE of FIRE...Katz doesn't fear to show us Bruck at his worst. The maestro screams "You are hopeless" at one student conductor throughout an entire rehearsal; tells another to conduct with his arms raised high above his head, then mocks the ridiculous pose; forces a third to stand during a meeting because, Bruck says, he has not earned the right to sit.
"With his thick Hungarian accent and saliva-drenched lisp, Bruck lends himself to caricature. But Katz's performance goes far beyond imitation. Fluidly shifting back and forth between high-strung, eccentric Bruck and himself, it subtly registers Katz's own evolution from a skilled musical craftsman to something greater: an artist. And as Katz's maturation becomes evident, so does the humanity, complexity, and even humor underneath Bruck's fiery facade.
"...I have never seen Katz lead an orchestra, but if his conducting is as fine as his acting, he must be superb. Every moment of his performance is characterized by emotional honesty, whether he's portraying himself as a shy newcomer or Bruck delivering a tirade. The two-act production climaxes with an extraordinary scene, in which Katz, with crisp timing, depicts Bruck and himself rehearsing the harrowing narration to A Survivor from Warsaw, Arnold Schoenberg's jaggedly atonal tribute to victims of the Holocaust. Katz's own interpretation of the text is intense but soft-spoken, while Bruck delivers the material in an anguished scream, unconsciously revealing the wellspring of feel that shapes his teaching.
"...Certainly, MUSE of FIRE will appeal most strongly to music fans. But anyone whose life has been shaped by conflict and communication with a difficult parent or teacher or boss or lover should find Katz's virtuosic performance moving as well as illuminating."
—Chicago Reader (IL)
“...unique depth and humor...tremendous verve...and palpable passion”
HEADLINE: "MUSE gets to the heart of teacher-pupil dynamic: One-man melodrama revels in quest to excel"
“Great teachers are rarely benign. They leave scars. Yet they also leave stretch marks of the very best kind...Such is the nature of the master-apprentice relationship so winningly captured in MUSE of FIRE, actor-writer-composer-conductor David Katz's autobiographical one-man, many-character, self-described "melodrama."
"The story Katz tells has been told in many different ways. But Katz brings unique depth and humor to his particular experience, and there is much to be learned and savored along the way. The psychically grueling summer institutes that Katz attended were frequently ego-crushing affairs, but when things finally clicked for Katz...he understood exactly what Bruck was striving for. And so do we. A sequence involving the performance of A Survivor from Warsaw, Arnold Schoenberg's work about the Holocaust, raises the sakes further."
"...Stocky and bearded but surprisingly graceful, Katz throws himself into the performance of this show with tremendous verve, making Bruck and a slew of other characters spring to life through the use of telling details and palpable passion."
—Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
“...one man epic...”
“...scenarios such as these leave audiences with ambiguous emotions, not knowing whether to roar with laughter at Bruck's over-the-top personality or shiver in fear at the notion of having to study under a fanatical teacher willing to go to any length to coerce the student to learn.
"...the climax and perhaps the most unforgettable sequence of the play occurs as the apprentice visits his sorcerer as he lies on his deathbed, beginning an intricately woven composition comprised of (music by) a wide array of prominent composers. The piece is a truly magnificent and fitting end to the show, epitomizing Bruck's passion and his belief in both the importance and power of music. Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro soothingly and perhaps very appropriately brings both the scene and the play to a close.
"What drives MUSE of FIRE are not the stories or experiences with which Katz entertains the audience, or even the renowned composition of Tchaikovsky, Schumann, Wagner, Bach and Beethoven. Instead, it is the performance of Katz himself...the way in which he effortlessly transforms between harrowing sorcerer and timid apprentice..."
—The Leader (SUNY-Fredonia) NY
“...a vivid impersonation...”
“Those who knew Charles Bruck, former maestro of the Pierre Monteux School in Hancock, nodded their heads and smiled in agreement; those who did not sat wishing they had...David Katz, who both wrote and starred in the play, delivered a vivid impersonation of his longtime teacher...Bruck’s infamous rages came alive on stage, as Katz shouted at an invisible student conductor, whose fear and horror seemed equally tangible...and yet, his students left his tutelage changed, calling themselves better conductors thanks to him...Classical music connoisseurs are sure to appreciate the beautifully recorded accompanying music, which accents the play well, coming to a crashing crescendo with Bruck’s rants...
“MUSE of FIRE’s message rang true throughout. Bruck forced aspiring conductors to determine for themselves what they were doing wrong, to let go of their pretension and inhibitions and simply “Feel something.” (Audiences) are likely to leave feeling something themselves.”
—Ellsworth American (ME)
“...his...passion for the gorgeous music triumphs...”
HEADLINE: "FOUR STARS: Katz sticks it to his mentor"
“Conductor/actor/playwright David Katz (now there's a resume you don't see every day) penned this one-man show, a tribute to legendary pedagogue Charles Bruck...(Katz's) off-beat skill-set proves an ideal vehicle for his thesis, concerning the "sorcerer's" secret imparted by the master: finding the place where "the music and the feeling" are the same, is as much the essence of good acting as the conductor's art.
"Katz's portrait of the iconic Bruck...is well-observed and affectionate...In a clever device, Katz has the maestro interrupt his own performance with withering critiques...Katz delivers two fully-inhabited, carefully differentiated portrayals...his exegetic passion for the gorgeous music triumphs."
—TIME OUT Chicago (IL)
“Conductor crafts portrait of fiery Monteux maestro...”
“...finely honed, expertly paced and well acted...a searing and unforgettable
portrait of the man who shaped a generation of conductors who hear the music
with their hearts...”
—Bangor Daily News (ME)
“There are two very good reasons to see MUSE of FIRE: A Sorcerer & His Apprentice, the
enthralling one-man show starring David Katz and directed by noted actor and director Charles
"The first, of course, is to appreciate the depth and range of Mr. Katz, an accomplished
and varied performer...Mr. Katz’s rapid shifts in character—from the fearful yet modestly
egocentric young conductor to the perfection-drive Bruck—is instantaneous and nearly flawless.
There may be only one actor on the sparely furnished stage, but Mr. Katz shifts quickly, and
clearly portrays the competing emotions of characters who desperately need each other and
must endure a crucible of conflict to fulfill their life missions.
“A second reason to see MUSE of FIRE is to marvel at the life and passion of Charles
Bruck...the maestro instructs his students with the intensity of a Marine Corps drill sergeant
preparing recruits for battle...
“Most of us have had a coach or a teacher, or a boss who thought we had the potential to do
better and tried to elicit a higher level of performance. But few have ever experienced the
character-shaping conflict the maestro specializes in.”
—Citizen News (CT)
“...funny, horrifying, poignant, and sometimes so suspenseful...”
HEADLINE: "HIS MAESTRO'S VOICE"
“Most people, if fortune smiles on them, have one thing they can do better than most other
people...But then someone like David Katz comes along, who seems to have mugged Lady
Fortune on his birthday and made off with every talent she had in her purse. In addition to being
an award-winning composer, conductor and an actor, he is a successful art entrepreneur
responsible for founding opera companies and other performing arts organizations in Maine and
Connecticut. And now Mr. Katz has pulled yet another talent from fortune’s handbag. He has
written and is performing in a one-man play...
“MUSE of FIRE is Mr. Katz’s absorbing account of his relationship with the bombastic Charles
Bruck, both his teacher and, apparently, tormentor at the Pierre Monteux School...While there is
only one actor onstage, this is actually a two-man play, so thoroughly does Katz bring his late
mentor to life, complete with red sneakers and a lisp...
“Mr. Katz is so effective in portraying Mr. Bruck’s tirades the whole audience trembled under his
barrage of insults...but embedded in the rough, uncompromising surface of Mr. Bruck’s invectives,
like little diamonds...are valuable lessons that help us understand why Mr. Katz was
eventually able to learn from this abrasive man and, yes, even love him...
“MUSE of FIRE is variously funny, horrifying, poignant, and sometimes so suspenseful it’s like
watching a close football game with the coach screaming from the sidelines. A good amount of
credit for creating this sense of action and tension...goes to director Charles Nelson Reilly, who
has done a splendid job moving the narrative forward...
“Mr. Katz’s performance is thoroughly engaging...the writing throughout MUSE is
impressive...great stories, well told.”
—Bar Harbor Times (ME)